2022 Symposium Keynote Speakers



February 18, 2022

Associate Dean and Professor Hollie Raynor

Hollie Raynor, PhD, RD

Hollie Raynor is Associate Dean and Professor in the Department of Nutrition at University of Tennesseee at Knoxville.  She holds a BS in Foods and Nutrition from San Diego State University, an MS in Public Health Nutrition from the University of Tennessee, and a PhD in Clinical Psychology from the University of Buffalo. She is a registered dietitian and a licensed psychologist. Dr. Raynor conducts research in lifestyle interventions for pediatric and adult weight management, has published over 125 peer-reviewed articles, and has received funding from the National Institutes of Health, American Diabetes Association, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Foundation, and Weight Watcher’s International, for her research. She served as a member of the National Committee for Clinical Guidelines for Obesity for the American Psychological Association and as a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ (AND) Prediabetes Evidence Analysis Library Committee. Her research interests are on lifestyle interventions, designed to improve eating and leisure-time activity behaviors, for obesity treatment in children and adults. Examining environmental dietary factors, such as portion size, variety, and energy-density, which influence food consumption.  Hollie is the director of the the Healthy Eating and Activity Laboratory (HEAL).

Assistant Professor in the Deaprtment of Medicine Dr. Sushant Bhatnagar

Sushant Bhatnagar, PhD

Dr. Sushant Bhatnagar  is an Assistant Professor in the Deaprtment of Medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He received Bachelor and Master of Science degrees in Chemistry Honors from Panjab University, Chandigarh, India. After that, he completed his Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from the West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV. His doctorate thesis work was on understanding the role of FGF19 secreted protein in lipid and carbohydrate metabolism. As a postdoctoral research associate, Dr. Bhatnagar embarked on a challenging genetics project, which led to the positional cloning of Tomosyn-2 gene that increases susceptibility to type 2 diabetes. He successfully identified a SNP in the Tomosyn-2 gene and demonstrated that it is causal for the disease phenotype. As an Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Metabolism, Dr. Bhatnagar started working on developing the idea of determining the function of the secreted proteins by using network-based approaches. This analysis combines the unique strategy of gene expression profiling with the coexpression network-based approaches to identify secreted protein regulators and determine their tissue-specific function. The outcomes from this project are expected to provide insights into islet function during the pathophysiology state, which will lead to the identification of novel therapeutic targets for drug discovery. Using this approach, his laboratory successfully identified a novel role of C1ql3 secreted protein and its G-protein coupled receptor BAI3 in insulin secretion. His laboratory integrates the use of genetics- and bioinformatics as a discovery platform to identify novel metabolic regulators, and subsequently utilizes biochemistry, cell biology, and physiology-based techniques to understand mechanisms underlying islet function in obesity and type 2 diabetes. Current lab projects include understanding, the role of Tomosyn-2 in insulin secretion and glucose tolerance, the role of C1ql3-BAI3 in regulating insulin secretion and beta cell function, and the use of bioinformatics to identify novel secreted protein regulators. His laboratory has been supported by funds from K99/R00 NIH Pathway to Independence award, American Diabetes Association, Laboratory-startup funds, UAB DRC Pilot award, and recently awarded R01

senior nutrition scientist and epidemiologist Joel Kimmons

Joel Kimmons, PhD

Joel Kimmons, PhD is a senior nutrition scientist and epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity.  Dr Kimmons focuses on environmental and behavioral design approaches to creating healthy and sustainable places to live, work and play.  He leads efforts to create and operationalize healthy food service guidelines in community and institutional settings, as well as, the development and application of Behavioral Design approaches to healthier living.  Dr Kimmons developed and manages the scientific aspects of Fitwel, a healthy building rating and certification program.  Joel received his Ph.D. from the University of California, Davis in International Nutrition and Epidemiology.